Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Writing for Handheld Games
Evan Skolnick
17.1 Introduction
When writing narrative content for a game on a handheld system such as the Nin-
tendo DS or Sony PSP, there are a number of considerations that are important
to understand and take into account. They largely pertain to the technical limita-
tions of the hardware, the budgetary constraints common to this type of title, and
the player's unique interactions with a handheld game system. In this chapter, we'll
examine many of these considerations and explore best practices for approaching
narrative development on these diminutive but important game platforms.
Let's Get Small
A writer of big-budget Hollywood action blockbusters who suddenly found himself
working on a weekly TV crime drama would soon find that the expensive, special-
effects-laden action scenes he previously relied on to punch up his scripts were not
within the scope of his new assignment. He'd also encounter and have to adapt to
some important structural conventions of writing for TV; for example, the need to
design your story to work effectively around the commercial breaks, always teasing
the audience enough so that they'll return after the ads have played.
Our displaced movie writer would need to very quickly learn to work within
the limitations and requirements of this format, and work effectively. . . or he'd soon
need to learn how to apply for unemployment compensation.
This reorientation process would not be dissimilar to that of a game writer whose
previous project was Lead Writer on a next-generation title for a platform like the
Xbox 360 who then found herself hired to produce narrative content for a Nintendo
DS title. The specifics of this adaptation process would of course be completely
different than in our movie-to-TV writer example, but the core aspect of putting
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